Friday, October 2, 2015
NECC Trustee Defends $3.75 Million Fee Request
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The attorney who served as trustee of the New England Compounding Center has issued a strongly worded 25-page response to charges that his trimmed down $3.8 million fee request is excessive.
In a response filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts, attorneys for Paul D. Moore cited his "extraordinary success" in amassing some $200 million for victims and creditors of the company blamed for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.
The filing comes just prior to a scheduled hearing on legal and other fee requests submitted in the 30-month old case. The session is set for Tuesday at 11 a.m. before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff.
Moore was responding to a motion filed by the plaintiffs' steering committee (PSC), composed of lawyers for victims of the 2012 outbreak that killed 76 patients across the country. The PSC, in a highly critical filing, charged that Moore was seeking excessive compensation that would equate to an hourly fee of $2,162.
Moore disputed that calculation stating that the actual hourly figure was $967.07.
"It defies logic to suggest that a contingent fee of 1.9 percent is unreasonable under the circumstances of this case," the brief states.
Moore's lawyers also disputed the PSC's claim that he was trying to take credit for negotiations that involved several other parties.
Noting that settlement details were confidential, Moore's attorneys focused on his role in negotiating settlements with the NECC shareholders and other insiders.
That agreement, the brief states, was "a critical achievement that created the momentum that led to the other settlements."
Moore also defended requesting separate fees for his role as trustee and a member of the legal team from his law firm, Duane Morris, that served as counsel in the case. The law firm has requested payments of $4.3 million.
"Snide suggestions of impropriety are wholly unsupported," Moore's lawyers wrote.
They also noted that Moore, under an agreement with the U.S. Trustee, reduced his original fee request from $5.75 million to $3.75 million. The PSC has asked that his fee be cut further to $1.43 million.
Moore's attorneys also pointed to much higher legal fees that could be paid from a fund set aside from the total settlement to pay plaintiff lawyers who played lead roles in the case. That common fund fee, they noted, could, if approved, total 8 percent of the anticipated $200 million with billing for some 31,000 hours.
The (Moore) request, the filing states, "will not result in a windfall. Instead he (Moore) is seeking a reasonable commission."